Presentation on theme: "Self-Justification and the Need to Maintain Self-Esteem"— Presentation transcript:
1Self-Justification and the Need to Maintain Self-Esteem Chapter 6Self-Justification and the Need to Maintain Self-Esteem
2Chapter OutlineI. The Need to Justify Our Actions
3The Need to Justify Our Actions One of the most powerful determinants of human behavior is the need to preserve a stable, positive self-concept.
4The Need to Justify Our Actions The Theory of Cognitive DissonanceLeon Festinger originated the concept of cognitive dissonance, defining it as inconsistency between two thoughts. Cognitive dissonance may arise when a person engages in an act that is discrepant from one’s self-concept.
5The Need to Justify Our Actions The Theory of Cognitive DissonanceCognitive dissonance is the feeling of discomfort caused by information that is discrepant from your customary, typically positive, self-concept. Experiencing dissonance motivates an attempt to reduce it.
6The Need to Justify Our Actions Rational Behavior Versus Rationalizing BehaviorThe need to reduce dissonance and maintain self-esteem produces thinking that is rationalizing rather than rational.
7The Need to Justify Our Actions Decisions, Decisions, DecisionsPostdecision dissonance is aroused after we make any important decision; it is reduced by enhancing the attractiveness of the chosen alternative and devaluating the rejected alternative.
8The Need to Justify Our Actions Decisions, Decisions, DecisionsOne way to engage in postdecision dissonance reduction is to proselytize, recommending your decision/behavior to others.
9The Need to Justify Our Actions Decisions, Decisions, DecisionsThe more permanent a decision, the greater the need to reduce dissonance after making it. Feeling that one’s decision is irrevocable may lead to falling prey to a sales technique called lowballing. Lowballing makes the customer feel compelled to pay a higher price for an item after first agreeing to pay a much lower price.
10The Need to Justify Our Actions Decisions, Decisions, DecisionsDissonance reduction following a difficult moral decision can cause people to behave either more or less ethically in the future, because people’s attitudes will polarize in the attempt to justify the ethical choice they made.
11The Need to Justify Our Actions The Justification of EffortWhat happens when a person voluntarily works hard and the goal doesn’t seem worth it after all? People are unlikely to change their self-concept to believe they were unskilled or foolish; instead they change their attitude towards the goal and see it positively. This is called the justification of effort.
12The Need to Justify Our Actions The Psychology of Insufficient JustificationWhen people attempt to reduce their dissonance by changing something about themselves, for example their attitudes, they are using internal justification. When people attempt to explain their dissonant behaviors by focusing on reasons that reside outside of themselves, for example being paid a large sum of money, they are using external justification.
13The Need to Justify Our Actions The Psychology of Insufficient JustificationCounterattitudinal advocacy is the process by which people are induced to state publicly an attitude that runs counter to their own attitude. If there is no external justification for counterattitudinal advocacy, a person’s attitude may change in accordance with the view that was expressed publicly. However, when external justification exists, the person’s attitude doesn’t change.
14The Need to Justify Our Actions The Psychology of Insufficient JustificationHarsh punishments teach us to try to avoid getting caught, and thus require constant vigilance to be effective. In contrast, insufficient punishment induces dissonance about why one is not engaging in the behavior, and inspires dissonance reduction by devaluing the forbidden activity or object.
15The Need to Justify Our Actions The Psychology of Insufficient JustificationWhen attitude change occurs due to insufficient reward or punishment, it becomes very enduring. Both insufficient punishment and insufficient justification lead to self-persuasion, a long-term form of attitude change that results from attempts at self-justification.
16The Need to Justify Our Actions The Psychology of Insufficient JustificationInsufficient external justification is justification that is sufficient to produce the behavior, but insufficient for people to believe that they were “forced” through external justifications to do it.
17The Need to Justify Our Actions The Aftermath of Good and Bad DeedsDissonance theory and folk wisdom suggest that we like people not for the favors they have done us but for the favors we have done them.
18The Need to Justify Our Actions The Aftermath of Good and Bad DeedsIf we harm someone, this induces dissonance between our actions and our self-concepts as decent people; to resolve this dissonance, we may derogate or dehumanize our victims.
19The Need to Justify Our Actions The Aftermath of Good and Bad DeedsWe are more likely to derogate people we have harmed if they are innocent victims. Derogating victims by dehumanizing them may lead to a continuation or escalation of violence against them.
20The Need to Justify Our Actions The Evidence for Motivational ArousalDissonance theory assumes that discomfort due to physiological arousal motivates dissonance reduction. In fact, after engaging in counterattitudinal advocacy, people who can attribute their arousal to another source and not the dissonant behavior do not change their attitudes.
21Chapter OutlineII. New Directions in Research on Self-Justification
22New Directions in Research The basic premise of cognitive dissonance theory is that people have a fundamental need to maintain a stable and positive sense of self.
23New Directions in Research Self-Discrepancy TheoryHiggins’ (1987) self-discrepancy theory holds that people are motivated to maintain a sense of consistency among their beliefs and perceptions of themselves, and become distressed when there is a discrepancy between the “actual self” and an “ideal” or “ought” self.
24New Directions in Research Self-Completion TheoryWicklund and Gollwitzer’s (1982) self-completion theory holds that whenever people experience a threat to an important aspect of their self-concept, they are motivated to seek some additional social recognition for that part of their identity.
25New Directions in Research Self-Completion TheoryThe theory extends dissonance theory by focusing on the importance of social recognition of the self.
26New Directions in Research Self-Evaluation Maintenance TheoryTesser’s (1988) self-evaluation maintenance theory holds that one’s self-concept can be threatened by another individual’s behavior, and that the level of threat is determined by both the closeness of the other individual and the personal relevance of the behavior.
27New Directions in Research Self-Evaluation Maintenance TheoryDissonance arising when a friend outperforms oneself in a cherished domain can be resolved by (1) distancing oneself from the friend; (2) changing how relevant the domain is to one’s self-definition; or (3) improving one’s performance to outshine the friend’s performance.
28New Directions in Research Self-Affirmation TheorySteele’s (1988) self-affirmation theory suggests that people will reduce the impact of a dissonance arousing threat to their self-concept by focusing on and affirming their competence on some dimension unrelated to the threat.
29Chapter OutlineIII. Self-Justification versus Self- Maintenance: The Role of Negative Self-Beliefs
30Self-Justification versus Self-Maintenance Self-Verification versus Self-EnhancementResearch that takes self-esteem into account finds that, in some instances, people with negative self-concepts do not engage in the kinds of self-justification (the tendency to justify one’s actions in order to maintain one’s self-esteem), typical of people with positive self-concepts.
31Self-Justification versus Self-Maintenance Self-Verification versus Self-EnhancementSwann (1990) has proposed self-verification theory, a theory suggesting that people have a need to seek confirmation of their self-concept, whether the self-concept is positive or negative.
32Self-Justification versus Self-Maintenance Self-Verification versus Self-EnhancementThe need for self-verification appears to dominate over the need for self-justification for people with negative self-concepts only when people are highly certain of those self-concepts; when the consequences of being improperly evaluated are not too great; and when people believe there is nothing that can be done to improve their abilities.
33Self-Justification versus Self-Maintenance Dissonance Reduction and CultureThe experience of dissonance and the attempts to reduce it have been found in all cultures in which they have been studied.
34Self-Justification versus Self-Maintenance Dissonance Reduction and CultureSakai (1999) found that in Japan, not only does a person reduce dissonance after saying that a boring task is interesting, but in addition, if a person merely observes someone he knows and likes saying that a boring task is interesting, that will cause the observer to experience dissonance.
35Self-Justification versus Self-Maintenance Avoiding the Rationalization TrapThe rationalization trap is the potential for dissonance reduction to produce a succession of self-justifications that can ultimately result in a chain of unintelligent or immoral actions.
36Self-Justification versus Self-Maintenance Learning from Our MistakesThe attempt to reduce dissonance can prevent us from learning from our mistakes and can lead us to sweep our mistakes under the rug or even turn them into virtues, perpetuating the error and leading to tragedy.
37Self-Justification versus Self-Maintenance Learning from Our MistakesOne way to avoid the rationalization trap is to experience a boost to one’s self-esteem. Self-affirmation may provide a way out of the rationalization trap.
39Heaven’s Gate Revisited Making an important decision and investing heavily in that decision can evoke a high degree of cognitive dissonance and a strong need to justify behavior. One of the most powerful forces influencing the members of the Heaven’s Gate cult was the great amount of cognitive dissonance they experienced.
40Study QuestionsWhat are conditions that may result in cognitive dissonance? Why does cognitive dissonance occur?
41Study QuestionsWhat is the relationship between making important decisions and experiencing dissonance? What happens to attitudes toward the chosen alternative and the one that is not chosen?
42Study QuestionsWhy is lowballing an effective persuasion technique? How does dissonance reduction after a moral decision affect people’s tendency to behave ethically or unethically in the future?
43Study QuestionsWhat is the relationship between the justification of effort and dissonance reduction?
44Study QuestionsWhy can insufficient justification result in dissonance? What are the consequences of reducing dissonance through external justification compared to internal justification?
45Study QuestionsWhat are the effects of insufficient punishment on the judgments of an object or entity? What are the effects of mild versus severe threats on the level of dissonance experienced?
46Study QuestionsWhy is self-persuasion a long-lasting form of attitudinal change?
47Study QuestionsWhat are the consequences of doing something unpleasant for a friend compared to doing something unpleasant for someone who is disliked? What are the effects of doing a favor for someone on how much this person is liked?
48Study QuestionsWhat does self-discrepancy theory explain? How is dissonance reduced according to this theory?
49Study QuestionsWhat is self-completion theory? How is dissonance reduced according to this theory?
50Study QuestionsWhat is self-evaluation maintenance theory? What are two necessary factors for the occurrence of dissonance according to this theory? How does this theory explain why people may help strangers more than they help their friends?
51Study QuestionsWhat causes dissonance according to self-affirmation theory? How is dissonance reduced according to this theory?
52Study QuestionsWhen do people prefer self-verification more than self-enhancement?
53Study QuestionsWhat is a rationalization trap and how does one develop? How can this trap be avoided? What can other cultures teach us about avoiding this trap?